DELAND, Fla. – The Stetson University women’s tennis team is gearing up for its appearance in the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. The Hatters (16-5, 5-3) were awarded a No. 4 seed and will take on fifth seeded Mercer, Thursday, Apr. 17, at 2:30 p.m., in Jacksonville, during the opening round.
Stetson enters the three-day tournament having won six straight matches and four consecutive conference contests, one of which was against the same Mercer Bears squad.
“There is certainly an air of confidence heading into the championship after our victory over our old nemesis, UCF, last week,” said Director of Stetson Tennis Pierre Pilote. “With that being said, all team members understand the challenges ahead, starting with a very good Mercer team.”
“We played them pretty recently so we kind of remember how it went,” said senior A-Sun Player of the Year, Diana Bukajeva. “Yes we play on different courts now, but I think it definitely helps us and we are excited about it,” she added.
The Bears and Hatters waged battle, back on Mar. 28, in a rain shortened match, where SU blanked MU 5-0, without the benefit of doubles play. Mercer enters the championship with a 4-4 conference mark and a 10-13 overall record.
“Mercer presents some difficult match ups in singles for us and I know they will be looking to avenge their regular season loss at our hands,” Pierre added. “That match was shorten do to the weather, so it’s impossible to tell how we will match up in doubles since we didn’t play them on the day.”
Waiting for the Hatters in the second round should they advance is the No. 1 seeded and defending conference champion Ospreys of North Florida, who will also be playing on their home courts as they are hosts to the 2014 tournament. Stetson and North Florida met up in the regular season with the Ospreys coming out on top 5-2 in DeLand.
The prospect of playing two matches in two days or even three in as many days if Stetson made it to the championship match, does not worry Pilote, as he thinks this is what his team has been focused on achieving.
“The possibility of playing three matches in three days will be a challenge, but it is something that we have been preparing for all year, with our strength and conditioning staff,” Pilote explained.
For those fans not making the trip to Jacksonville, they can follow @StetsonTennis on Twitter, as well as sign up for Hat-Alerts, the athletic department’s official text messaging system for match and tournament updates.
Gohatters.com will have Stetson recaps and atlanticsun.org will provide comprehensive championship coverage with up to date brackets and records. Live stats are also available on the A-Sun women's tennis website as well.